Local, state, federal agencies test Super Bowl security response

On Your Side looks at what the NFL and law enforcement are doing to keep players and fans safe.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 2:13 PM MST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2022 at 1:20 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Long before kickoff or fireworks and before a Super Bowl champion is crowned, there are a lot of meetings. “The planning for this started the moment of kickoff for last Super Bowl, said Akil Davis, the FBI Special Agent in charge of the Phoenix Field Office.

On Your Side was allowed to go behind the scenes at State Farm Stadium as a group of first responders, police officers and firefighters gathered to plan responses to possible worst-case scenarios. They call it a tabletop exercise. “Any major critical incidents that you’ve seen in the United States, we’ll probably test that response,” Davis said. “A Uvalde shooting, a plane crash, a major accident on the freeway. We’re really testing those things in the wake of the Super Bowl to see how we would handle that response.”

The FBI and NFL say there are no specific or credible threats against the big game. “Even though we don’t have specific threats, we plan as if we do,” said Cathy Lanier, the NFL’s chief security officer. She says Super Bowl security is different every year. “It changes dramatically every year. It’s a very large event. It’s spread out over ten days. Typically there are about 20 to 25 different venues that we work. Every city is different,” she said.

Technology also changes quickly. There are potential physical threats as well as cyber threats. Lanier says that’s why it’s so important to get everyone into the same room. “This is the most complex part of the entire process. Logistics is hard, but communications is harder,” she said.

While these agencies prepare for the worst, lesser threats can also become big security issues. Lanier says the public, both football fans who live in the Valley and tourists who flock here, will also play a critical role in safety. “Just like spectators come, predators will come for those opportunities as well, so do your best to make sure that you’re traveling in groups,” she said. “All the areas around the events will have lots of police presence, so stay in those areas. Make sure you’re traveling in groups, and don’t advertise flashy jewelry.”

Super Bowl LVII is February 12, 2023. It will be the third Super Bowl at State Farm Stadium.

Super Bowl LVII is about two months away. Susan Campbell speaks with Kevin Smith from the FBI's Phoenix office on safety and security.